|Namesake:||John T. Melvin|
|Builder:||Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Kearny, N.J.|
|Laid down:||6 July 1943|
|Launched:||17 October 1943|
|Commissioned:||24 November 1943|
|Decommissioned:||13 January 1954|
|Struck:||1 December 1974|
|Class and type:||Fletcher class destroyer|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)|
|Beam:||39 ft 9 in (12.1 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)|
|Speed:||38 knots (70 km/h; 44 mph)|
|Range:||6,500 nm at 15 kn (12,000 km at 28 km/h)|
Melvin was laid down on 6 July 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, in Kearny, N.J.; launched on 17 October 1943, sponsored by Miss Gertrude C. Bailey, grandniece of Lieutenant Melvin; and commissioned on 24 November 1943, with Commander Warner R. Edsall in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Melvin sailed for the Pacific on 1 February 1944. Arriving Pearl Harbor on 4 March, she got underway for Majuro five days later and for the next month conducted antisubmarine patrols and participated in the blockade of enemy-held atolls in the Marshall Islands, returning to Pearl Harbor on 2 May. There, she underwent intensive fire support training and 31 May departed with Task Group 52.17 (TG 52.17) for Saipan. Approaching that island on the night of 13/14 June, she sank RO-36. A few hours later, while steaming off northern Saipan, she again attacked an enemy vessel, this time a merchantman, which burned brightly for a few hours before sinking. For the next 23 days, she provided counter-battery fire, conducted antisubmarine patrols, damaging an enemy submarine on the 17th, served as call fire ship for Marines on the beach, escorted ships from Eniwetok, and participated in the bombardment of Tinian.
On 8 July, Melvin. sailed for Eniwetok, where on the 18th, she sailed in the screen of the transports carrying troops to Guam, off the coast of which she screened transports and oilers from 22 July to 7 August. After preparations at Guadalcanal, from 8–21 September she took part in the capture and occupation of the southern Palau Islands, then joined TG 33.19 for the unopposed occupation of Ulithi. After escorting LSTs to Hollandia, she arrived at Manus Island to stage for the invasion of Leyte, Philippines.
Now with TG 79.11, Melvin sailed on 11 October toward the Philippines in the screen of the landing craft to be used in the assault on Dulag. Soon after midnight on 20 October, she entered Leyte Gulf and took up her assigned screening station between Dinagat and Hibuson Islands, carrying out similar screening patrols for the next 4 days. In the early hours of the 25th, she joined in the torpedo attack by Destroyer Squadron 54 (DesRon 54), which opened the Battle of Surigao Strait. Assigned with Remey and McGowan to the Eastern Attack Group, Melvin began launching torpedoes soon after 0300, scoring hits on Fusō, which reportedly exploded and eventually sank at about 0338. (Other reports, including from a survivor of the Fusō Battle of Surigao Strait, report Fusō rolling and sinking in about 40 minutes. Large fires from spilled crude burned on the surface). Following their attack, the destroyers retired up the Dinagat coast to Hibuson, from where they witnessed the deadly barrage from Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's battle line.
Within 48 hours, Melvin was en route to Hollandia, and escorting resupply convoys to the Philippines into December, when she returned to the Solomon Islands to rehearse for the assault on Luzon. She stood out of Purvis Bay, Florida Island on 25 December, escorting transports to Manus and then on to Lingayen Gulf. She arrived with her charges on 11 January 1945, and provided illumination and fire support as well as screening services. Continuing to cover the landings until the 15th, she met Japanese kamikazes, as swimmers, in boats, and in planes, with equal determination.
From Luzon, Melvin sailed south to Leyte, then to the Carolines and a new assignment, screening the Fast Carrier Task Force (TF 38/58). Steaming north with that force on 10 February, Melvin guarded the flattops as their planes raided Honshū and then provided direct air cover for the Iwo Jima campaign. On the 21st, she aided Saratoga in her fight against fires and enemy planes, splashing three, and then escorted her to Eniwetok for repairs.
By mid-March, she had rejoined the fast carriers at Ulithi, sailing northwest with them on the 14th to prepare the way for the Okinawa campaign. For the next 61 days, Melvin remained at sea, guarding the carriers, providing fire support for the troops embattled after 1 April, and patrolling on picket station. After a brief respite at Ulithi in mid-May, she returned to the Ryukyu Islands on the 24th for raids on enemy installations in those islands and on Kyūshū. Mid-June brought another brief respite from the war while the destroyer was docked in San Pedro Bay. She was underway again on 1 July as the carriers steamed north for their last deployment against Japan. In the next month and a half, the force operated off the enemy's homeland, shelling and bombing industrial and military centers on Honshū and Hokkaidō.
Melvin remained with the aircraft carriers until 10 August, when she sailed north to join TF 92 in an anti-shipping sweep and bombardment of Paramushiro. With that mission completed on the 12th, she sailed east to Adak, Alaska, where she received word of the Japanese surrender, and new orders to return to Japan for occupation duty with minesweepers off northern Honshū. On 12 October, she departed for the United States, arriving at San Francisco on 4 November. At San Diego on 31 May 1946, she was decommissioned and joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Melvin recommissioned on 26 February 1951 and sailed on 1 June for Newport, R.I. to join the Atlantic Fleet's DesRon 24 and bolster the 2nd and 6th Fleets so that they could spare destroyers for the U.N. effort in South Korea. For 2½ years, she cruised off the US east coast and in the Caribbean Sea, deploying to the Mediterranean Sea from 22 April to 8 October 1952 and 22 April to 6 June 1953.
On 13 January 1954, she again decommissioned and joined the Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina. She remained berthed there until 1960, when she was reassigned to the Philadelphia Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Melvin was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1974. She was sold on 14 August 1975 and broken up for scrap.
Earned the name The Blue Devil from the Japanese navy during World War II
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- navsource.org: USS Melvin
- hazegray.org: USS Melvin